Entrepreneur · Entrepreneurship

Is it possible to work full-time in a job and be a successful entrepreneur?

Inês Filipa Lopes MSc in Digital Marketing

August 15th, 2019

Hello everyone! I am finishing my master's degree in digital marketing and I have received an excellent proposal for a full-time internship for a marketing agency. The problem is, I'm currently working on my startup that requires a lot of time, dedication and money. I have a huge passion for entrepreneurship and I don't know how much I can match the two jobs. What tips can you give me about working full-time and being an entrepreneur? Is it risky to leave the internship to dedicate myself to my startup?

Thank you!

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

August 16th, 2019

@Sidick said it pretty well. A business that does not have 100% of your attention is a hobby business. Yes, many entrepreneurs start an enterprise while they're working somewhere else, often to generate the funds to support their hobby business. But at some point you will reach a critical stage where you need to put your full attention on the new enterprise and leave your regular employment.

Divided attentions will always mean that your success with the new enterprise is a slave to your primary priority, your full-time job. One of the two will suffer. Passion is great for motivation overall, but it means very little when splitting your attention, and to an outsider, may signal a lack of commitment. Your internship, while it adds value to your experience and may be generating funds for what you really want to do, is in the end just an internship. Unless it's in the same field you're working to open your own business, its ultimate value is low. Why intern for someone outside your industry when you have no intention of working full-time for someone else in the future. You want to work for yourself.

Entrepreneurship is about taking (calculated) risks. So here's what I suggest. Be cognizant that your new enterprise will suffer from lack of love while you're employed elsewhere. A full-time dedication to your new idea will move it along more quickly and with greater precision. An investor (if you considered finding one) will not invest in a business which you are not committed to 100% of your time.

Agency work is interesting because it exposes you to the thought process about how products and services should be marketed. But most agencies put a very low value on interns, so it's not really a career path. What it may help teach you is the extremely important steps of developing a marketing strategy BEFORE you ever create a product or offer a service, how to test your assumptions, how to research your competition, and how to A/B test marketing ideas. Those are all valuable pre-work skills that have a direct application to creating your own business.

Go ahead and do the internship, but recognize that you're not really ready to launch your own business until you can switch from the internship to your own company 100%. It doesn't mean you can't spend time on research and preparation. Just keep your commitments low and expenses low, and build your plan so you're ready to act when your time is not divided.

Sidick Allalade CTO at Oshara.ca & Cofounder Osortoo.com

August 15th, 2019

Hi Ines, I think NO for : and be a successful entrepreneur?

but YES for and become a successful entrepreneur?

Most entrepreneurs have gone through this, just that at some point you have to know how to let it go, and take a risk to invest full time in the project you believe in.

Someone said to get what you never got, you have to do what you never did.

What tips can you give me about working full-time and being an entrepreneur?

==> Accept the job, and LEARN from them, If you just finish your study, and if your intern can grant you more skills, Accept and LEARN.

But at the end of the day make sure you take one more small step in the direction of your startup success and plan it better

Is it risky to leave the internship to dedicate myself to my startup?

==> Ohh yes but For me Entrepreuneurship is a RISK, but I still love it.

As an entrepreuneur myself, some attitudes that help me everyday till now is resilience and passion.

Means some days or month it will be down, you simply have to take lessons to improve, and some other, it will be UP for long, you'll have to manage well to keep the track.

Good luck in your statup and share it with us anytime you ready.

All about me here : https://osor.to/sidick

Renato Godoy Díaz A dreamer, I like to see possibilities

August 15th, 2019

Hi Ines, I think that for those who do not have large financial reserves. It is mandatory to do both at the same time. And according to what I have seen, perhaps that corresponds to most cases. Unfortunately the effort must be at least 200% to be successful in those conditions. But most have faced that reality, so in no case is it impossible.

I am in the same position, so cheer up!

Nuno Ribeiro Software developer... taking a step back

Last updated on August 16th, 2019

Hi Ines,

There are many paths to success. The easiest one is of course, to have the funds and go for it - if you are willing to fail and learn, and money is not a problem. But for the large majority, having funds is not an option, so to engage in a business idea without money is like going to the desert without water. You will get into an emotional mode that is not conductive to proper reasonable business.

> Is it risky to leave the internship to dedicate myself to my startup?

Well, you'll be the only one able to know that. But having experience is a key asset, and one doesn't just get it through internship as well. Do you have an experienced co-founder? I would spend a couple time consuming videos of founders who explain how they did it and get tutoring around with meaningful information. How can a company sell? What is marketing? Is my product validated? Will it sell without effort? Do I need a very big capital investment upfront? If so, is the idea good enough to attract potential co-founders who are willing to invest the rest? Can I prototype and pitch for VC? Can I have a market entry level product? What skills do I need to hire to make all of this happen? What processes do I need to put in place to keep profitable and avoid slacking?

But even with money, perhaps giving a bit of thought and spending years planning and coming up with business validation, creative new ways to engage and whatnot, might be the right way to go about. This is true for business models that already exist. If your business model doesn't exist, then you should be quick and think of the importance to be the first tapping into the market (and have very lean business infrastructure to diminish time to market).

If you do wait and get a day job doing something else, many will dislike and think "it's not serious enough". Do not be wary of that. If you know what you're doing, that extra time will be of importance.

Have a look at this one, about Warby Parker (it's just one example of very slow beginning):


Best wishes for your venture!

Rob Mitchell Independent Software Contractor

August 16th, 2019

Well, I'd like to say "anything is possible" but the biggest gamble is trading time for your definition of success. I'm on the slow growth path working towards being that "successful entrepreneur" but its taking many years with family obligations (primary), work (primary/secondary), and trying to live a healthy lifestyle. You're young and you probably have less ties, so I suggest taking big risks and going for it; just try not to burn out too quickly. Remember who you are and your values, and try not to copy what other's are doing; do it your way on your timeline.

Michael Audu Business Systems Expert and Partner

August 20th, 2019

Consider your options, why do you need the job? What advantage does it bring that your startup process won't give you? experience, money or network? If you're really set for the entrepreneurial dive, then go for it. But if it's simply a passion, without any proven model... take the job, and start it up slower, quit when you clear about a direct and consistent path to income as well as some market share (customers)

Darya Mateychenko Operations / PMO @Corpsoft.io

August 26th, 2019

Ines, you never know your path until you try.

It's true that things will fall out of focus, you will need to balance your attention between internship and your startup. Also true that once one thing gets up, another gets down: you become better as startup and miss things as intern, or vice versa.

But, you never know what opportunities can give you. Maybe internship will help you with startup in a long run (experience, connection, know-how, etc). Maybe your startup experience will help with internship and further career...

You never know until you try, and yes, it's risky, but your choices worth risks in my humble opinion.

As for tips:

1) do no forget your ultimate goal; do not forget why you took those opportunities and where you're going;

2) remember that all problems have more than one solution, so if you're stuck - take a step back and see a broader picture to find more paths;

3) always be sure you can quit or change things anytime if you see that you're going in an incorrect direction.


Anton Hughes Tech and experienced lean fintech startup

August 16th, 2019

Yes, read the book The 10% entrepreneur.

Srinivasan Satagopan CEO @ Ecotech IT Solutions Inc., assisting IT product companies in realizing their product dreams

August 22nd, 2019

No. You cannot rid on 2 horses at the same time. Each one needs different kinds of attention, focus, efforts, etc. You can travel like this until one of them warrants additional attention, and it will be a mediocre progress only on both front until then.

I have been in similar situation and have seen several senior IT guys trying this out.

hope this helps!


Francis Xavier Ssempiira Francis Xavier

August 21st, 2019

Dating two suitors "full-time" can be tricky. But for most people it's the only way to find who of the two deserves marriage. Truth is, you cannot be sure on the onset who will be the real deal; who will be a one-night stand guy and who will be your Knight in Shining Armour to walk you down the aisle. So keeping both as you make the best of the two until you choose to commit to one is the best way forward; in my opinion. Remember, we all kiss too many frogs before kissing our Prince. Good-luck.